Saturday, March 31, 2018

This Is The Night

I shouldn’t have been surprised today when, as I was running, my steps sped up upon turning on All Shall Be Well on YouTube. (Yes, I will admit it was a premature listen seeing as “this is the night,” and “that was the afternoon” leading up to Easter Vigil, but I couldn’t help myself.) (I also couldn’t help listening to it about twelve times on repeat.)

I had enjoyed the music I was playing before, but there is something about the heightened joy of singing, “Jesus alive!” that makes it difficult to contain myself. Yesterday morning during Tenebrae prayer, we chanted lines that elicited the same feeling of excitement inside me.

Even the bleakest life
sustains the consciousness
that somewhere, somehow,
there is going to be a resurrection,

a rebirth of life, of joy, of beauty,
that will never fade.

There is going to be a resurrection,
a rebirth of joy,
of beauty that will never fade.

May we believe this is to be true; this is the night, after all.

Easter blessings to each of you.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

early preparations occur in chapel, too

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Oh, Would That It Be

You might imagine that at a daycare center we do quite a few loads of laundry. Macaroni and cheese on a shirt after lunch? Throw it in the hamper. A soggy towel after water play? Throw it in the hamper. I will spare you some of the more drastic examples.

We also wash dozens and dozens of bibs on a weekly basis as each classroom of little kiddos eats two meals and a snack together Monday through Friday.

The other day I was sorting through some laundry, putting each item in its appropriate pile and figuring out which little pair of pants belonged to which child. I came upon a bib. As you might know, it is common to find “cutesy” sayings or images on baby clothing. This particular bib made a statement: Chick Magnet

I hadn’t seen it before and wondered which boy should receive it on his pile. I asked another teacher in the room. She said, “It belongs to her. Her mom found it and decided that she wanted to support her daughter no matter who she decides to love.” 

Oh, would that we all be so open to the becoming of those around us.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

hope springs eternal.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Create In Me, O God

Psalm 51, a commonly-used psalm for the Lenten season, contains the oft-used line: Create in me a clean heart, O God. I cannot lie; I could use one of those. In today’s homily, our presider asked us a question I did not really care to answer because I knew the truth of my response: “Have you died this Lent?” Sigh. Not even close.

Sure, I’ve taken up my practices—meditation, giving away an item a day, Facebook fasting—in hopes that at least a slightly more pristine heart might appear. Yet, these practices have been completed on my terms. Is that really the point of taking them on? To die to self as I decide to die? While “meditating” this morning, I wondered about this all. Then, I told myself, “Val, just get back to the mantra.” The homily only offered an opportunity to continue my wondering, which only led to worrying, which only led to the cycle continuing.

A clean heart, yes, please. May my practices lead me there. What I might want even more, though, is a calm heart. Create in me a calm heart, O God. I would love a heart that isn’t so preoccupied with the status or progress of my “death-to-self.” A heart that trusts that as long as I am intentional, prayerful, and faithful then all shall be well.

I saw that calmness in nature the other weekend on a walk to the lake. The water appeared as still as Los Angeles traffic on a Friday rush hour.

To die this Lent, for me, would be to drop all the anxieties and worries about the journey. To live in the calm of God’s grace at work. Maybe my practices are helping take me there. Who knows? I can only live in hope. The first crocus I spot each year is my reminder.

All shall be well.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Short and Sweet

One thing I enjoy about Lent is the hymn booklet we use for the songs we sing at prayer. Compared to the booklets we use at Christmas or Easter (Advent has quite a few, too), there are more options for songs sung as mantras. These shorter songs easily enter into memory and are nice to have in your head during the season as we prepare our hearts for Easter Sunday.

Recently I came across a shorter, maybe mantra-like Mary Oliver poem that I hadn't read before titled, Whispered Poem:

I have been risky in my endeavors,
I have been steadfast in my loves;

Oh Lord, consider these when you judge me.

Then, I remembered two others that I often read. First, The Uses of Sorrow:

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

And, We Shake With Joy:

We shake with joy, we shake with grief.
What a time they have, these two
house as they are in the same body.

These, too, like the mantras we sing in chapel, enter into my memory bank quickly, and I recall them from time to time. As for my favorite mantras at prayer?

A Listening Heart (Bob Hurd)
A listening heart give us, O God,
that we may always hear your voice;
a listening heart give us, O God,
that we may always follow.

Turn Our Hearts To You, O God (Barbara Bridge)
Turn our hearts to you, O God
with you there is healing,
wholeness and forgiveness,
freedom from fear, lasting peace.

Your Love Is Finer Than Life (Marty Haugen)
O God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you,
your love is finer than life.

Perhaps it is because I am focused on a mantra in my Lenten meditation practice, but these short sets of words are keeping me good company this Lenten season.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

The birds are keeping me good company, too.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

“Our Blogs Wrote Themselves...”

I uttered as we took a look at the scene yesterday morning. What a storm it was! (Of course, I was most grateful for the day off, creating the coveted three-day weekend.) What astonished me most though was the change throughout the day as the sun appeared following the foot of snow that dropped overnight from Thursday into Friday. As quickly as it came, it went (at least some of it.) Check it out. This is the view around 7:15 yesterday morning.

The deer were clearly rummaging for the apples we put out for them:

And, it appeared as though we had white birches in our backyard! (That’s what happens when the heavy snow drops while the winds gust.)

But, here is the astonishing part. See our sister, St. Scholastica in the morning:

And the same photos taken about six hours later:

As for (what I remember to be in the summer months) the Rose of Sharon:

Wow! What a day! See what the sun can do!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Lingering with Mary

Oh do you have time      to linger           for just a little while                out of your busy and very important day      for t...